Category Archives: Folk

Nick Mulvey – Cucurucu (2013)

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The singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey is a founding member of the band Portico Quartet. ‘Cucurucu’ was his fourth release after leaving the group in 2011 to go solo. It features on his first studio album First Mind, which, like the work of Portico Quartet, also received a Mercury Music Prize nomination. Mulvey has previously revealed that the song’s title is a meaningless noise a child would make, but to these ears, the salsa-infused sound has more to do with the time he spent studying music in Havana. A salsa infusion as it would be sung by Ian Brown, that is.

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Father John Misty – Pure Comedy (2017)

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For Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) channels Elton John throughout the six minutes of ‘Pure Comedy’, the title track off his upcoming album release, due out in April. Tillman’s songwriting looks as if it’s going to be very topical.

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Midlake – Roscoe (2006)

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As I may have said before, Midlake’s 2006 album The Trials Of Van Occupanther is great. The opening track is ‘Roscoe’ is a sweet-sounding harmony of rootsy sounds. Close your eyes and think about collecting them pelts from the hills. Have a great week.

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Cass McCombs – Opposite House (2016)

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I’ve noticed my start to the year is a little solemn. There’s no changing the low key today. Cass McCombs released ‘Opposite House’ as the the first single from last year’s long player Mangy Love. Angel Olsen provides backing vocals on the chorus. “Oh why/Why does it rain inside?” they sing. Have a great weekend.

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Aaron Lee Tasjan – Little Movies (2016)

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Singer-songwriter Aaron Lee Tasjan is an established artist on the American indie folk circuit. This year, he used this platform to do something far more interesting to these ears. He has run his brand of Americana through a Beatles/Nilsson blender. It is difficult for me to listen ‘Little Movies’ without thinking of George Harrison. It’s real good and features on the LP Silver Tears.

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Fred Neil – A Little Bit Of Rain (1965)

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Fred Neil is not as famous as he should be, partly because he gave up the bright lights to hang out in Florida. In 1965, a year before he wrote the classic ‘Everybody’s Talkin”, the singer-songwriter wrote the 1965 album Bleecker & MacDougal. Track #4 is ‘A Little Bit Of Rain’. “If I should leave you/Try to remember the good times/Warm days filled with sunshine/And just a little bit of rain/And just a little bit of rain.” Pure folk-blues.

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Midlake – The Old & The Young (2013)

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Has it really been a decade since Midlake released their sublime second album The Trials of Van Occupanther? To my ears, they have never again reached those high sounds. That said, in 2013, the troubadour in them had a momentary return. From their fourth album Antiphon sprung ‘The Old & The Young’ with its echoes of the psychedelic side of Laurel Canyon.

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Sixto Rodriguez – Jane S Piddy (1970)

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While George Harrison was knocking out the hits that he’d been holding back, Sixto Rodriguez was recording his talent for tomorrow. Not at all popular in 1970, Rodriguez would be rightly rediscovered 30 years later. ‘Jane S Piddy’ is off the singer-songwriter’s debut album Cold Fact.

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Richmond Fontaine – The Warehouse Life (2005)

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Last Friday, I went to a Richmond Fontaine gig in London. Love songs, art songs, folk songs, smart songs, Willy Vlautin’s narration always sounds like a man ruminating about modern life. The flannel shirt helps that impression. It is what alt-country should sound like before Jeff Tweedy turned it on its head. ‘The Warehouse Life’ was the opening track on 2005 album The Fitzgerald.

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Angus and Julia Stone – Big Jet Plane (2010)

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Three years after releasing their debut, A Book Like This, the Australian brother and sister Stones created something gift-wrapped for the American market. “She smelled of daisies, she smelled of daisies/She drive me crazy, she drive me crazy.” ‘Big Jet Plane’ features on their 2010 album Down The Way.

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The Felice Brothers – Her Eyes Dart Round (2006)

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Iantown was the first album pressing released by The Felice Brothers, but really it was the work of Ian Felice plus. However, the acoustic guitar and folk country set the tempo of what was to follow for the band. The album is out of print, but the track ‘Her Eyes Dart Round’ can also be found on their 2012 collection of home-recorded songs. God Bless You, Amigo.

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Townes Van Zandt – Pancho and Lefty (1972)

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Americana hero, John Townes Van Zandt died on New Year’s Day 1997 ravaged by 52 years of hard living. Typically, it was his early death that piqued the interests of artists and critics alike. However, it wasn’t first time people had paid their respects to his songwriting. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard all covered his song ‘Pancho and Lefty’. The song was originally released as a single on Tomato Records in 1972, but would also feature on 1977’s Live At The Old Quarter – a live set recorded over five nights in Houston, Texas in July 1973.

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Jim Croce – Time In A Bottle (1972)

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Singer-songwriter Jim Croce, 30, was killed on 20 September 1973 when his single-engine plane hit a tree on takeoff from a strip in Louisiana. His untimely death and a dose of irony, helped propel the song and its message to the top of the charts. The song originally featured on You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, his debut album for ABC Records.

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Will Johnson – Just To Know What You’ve Been Dreaming (2004)

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Before he joined Monsters of Folk in 2010, Will Johnson was already prolific as a solo artist, as the leader of Centro-matic and of its side project South San Gabriel. ‘Just To Know What You’ve Been Dreaming’ features on his 2004 solo album Vultures Await; it carries welcome echoes of The Beatles, Neil Young and Uncle Tupelo/early Wilco.

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9 of the best – sounds of 2005

I featured a few tracks from 2005 this week, but none of them made the cut. And so, in no particular order…

Kanye West feat. Adam Levine – Heard ‘Em Say

Sufjan Stevens – John Wayne-Gacy Jr

Sigur Rós – Hoppípolla

Brakes – You’re So Pretty

Arcade Fire – Wake Up

Spoon – The Beast And Dragon Adored

Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor

Okkervil River – A King And A Queen

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Baby C’Mon

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Honourable mentions also go to: Devendra Banhart for ‘Santa Maria Da Feira‘; Gorillaz for ‘Hong Kong‘; Smog for ‘Rock Bottom Riser‘; My Morning Jacket for ‘Wordless Chorus‘; Lindstrom for ‘I Feel Space‘; Dangerdoom for ‘El Chupa Nibre‘; Kelley Stoltz for ‘The Sun Comes Through‘; Super Furry Animals for ‘Zoom!‘; and Little Barrie for ‘Free Salute‘.

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